One typical Korean fermented food, cheonggukjang (fast-fermented bean paste), is in the process of radical transformation. Although many people are aware of the healthy efficacies of cheonggukjang, few enjoy eating it due to its strong, pungent scent. However, Inkun Food, a company specializing in production and distribution of cheonggukjang, has set out to develop products with the paste that anyone can enjoy in a convenient way. Inkun Food’s ambition is to become a leader in globalizing and popularizing fast-fermented bean paste products, and the company is receiving a lot of attention for its effort.
cheonggukjang Becomes Rice Cracker and Chocolate Ball
Oh Ki-Sung, CEO of Inkun Food, says, “cheonggukjang is good for the body, and we want to popularize it so that more Koreans and foreigners enjoy it.” He continues, "Many Koreans think that the only thing you can make with cheonggukjang is stew. Foreigners are not aware of the paste altogether.” To change these perceptions, the company has developed a wide array of products: Gipeunsil Plus, Gipeunsil Chocoball, Munching Cheonggukjang Gipeunsil Ball, Organic Cheonggukjang Rice Cracker, Cheonggukjang Roasted Barley Flour, and Organic Cheonggukjang. “Gipeunsil” is the brand name of cheonggukjang products by Inkun Food.
Gipeunsil Plus is made with organic cheonggukjang powder, 17 types of grains including brown rice and rye, 7 types of mixed germinates, and lactobacillus. The packages come in a small size convenient to carry and add to yogurt or other dishes. Gipeunsil Chocoball is balls of organic cheonggukjang coated with chocolate. The product is designed as a healthy snack for children. Organic Cheonggukjang Rice Cracker uses organic cheonggukjang and Korean rice. Containing no additives or preservatives, it is a snack that anyone can have regardless of age or gender.
Cheonggukjang Roasted Barley Flour is another convenience product; it is ready to be served as soon as you mix it with water. In addition to cheonggukjang, it contains various grains including barley and corn and can be used as a meal substitute. Having cheonggukjang cannot be any easier with Munching Cheonggukjang Gipeunsil Ball. To make this ball-shaped product, Inkun Food suppressed the sharp smell of the paste and improved its texture. In addition, the company has developed and launched in the market Cheonggukjang Porridge, Cheonggukjang Rice Noodles, and Cheonggukjang Job's Tears Tea. About Gipeunsil Chocoball, Oh explains: “This product is based on my idea. I wanted to give healthy chocolate to my daughter who is a huge fan of chocolate.” He adds, “Now, many daycare centers and kindergartens purchase this healthy snack.”
Focus on Producing High-Quality and Tasty Cheonggukjang
The cheonggukjang of Inkun Food is made through a series of steps including two fermentation periods, one 40 hours and the other one 12 hours. Only organic beans obtained through contract cultivation are used. The high quality of the company’s cheonggukjang has been confirmed with traditional food certification, organic processing certification, ISO 9001, and ISO 14001.
Inkun Food’s products have attracted attention of foreign buyers. The company has exported US$ 10,000 worth of cheonggukjang products to Iraq and is making test shipments to China and Vietnam. Inkun Food plans to expand the range of products it offers overseas gradually, starting with Chocoball and Roasted Barley Flour which are more palatable to foreigners.
In addition, there is a plan to build a Gipeunsil Village in Jechon County of North Chungcheong Province as a place for visitors to experience a variety of things related to cheonggukjang, from a production exhibition to a museum. Oh said, “Initially, we are planning to offer to foreign markets the products that foreigners can easily consume. In the future, we will open fast-fermented bean paste restaurants in foreign countries to familiarize overseas consumers with the taste of cheonggukjang so they would want to visit a cheonggukjang restaurant on their next trip to Korea.”
Additional Information / Why We Should Eat Fast-Fermented Bean Paste
Cheonggukjang has been receiving attention for a variety of beneficial effects. First of all, the polyglutamic acid contained in the sticky substance of cheonggukjang is effective in promoting the growth of T-cells that suppress immune reactions and restraining the growth of allergy-causing cells. In addition, the fiber in cheonggukjang can absorb 30 times its own weight in moisture, which reduces the time digested food needs to pass through the large intestine and prevents the hardening of stool. Furthermore, having a lot of fiber leads to the feeling of satiety and hence is effective when dieting.
Since cheonggukjang contains enzymes increasing blood pressure and ingredients suppressing the activation of ACE along with plenty of vitamin B2, the paste is recommended for patients suffering from diabetes. Cheonggukjang is also helpful in preventing cancers and strokes, while the abundance of amino-acids and vitamins will help recovery from a hangover.
Tel +82-10-5335-5604(Oh Ki-Sung, CEO)
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